Although welding is an excellent way to join two metal pieces, not all of us are well equipped or well trained to perform welding. So the question arises- are there any alternatives to the conventional welding method? Using a welder is the best way to do it, but several alternatives may come in handy.
According to the studies, alternative methods such as soldering, hardware assembly, spot welding, riveting, brazing, and adhesives or glue work effectively to joint two pieces of metal. Each of these methods comes with its unique procedure, benefits, and some disadvantages.
This article will help you understand how to weld metal without a welder with a step-by-step guide and different aspects of these methods.
Is it Possible to Weld Metal without a Welder?
The age-old welding process is nothing less than a fantastic craft, and the best person to do it is a professional welder. But a welder may not always be an option because of unavailability or low budget. In this case, you’ll need an alternative technique, and surprisingly it is very much possible to weld metal all by yourself. As mentioned before, there are several ways to do it, and most of these methods are less time-consuming than conventional welding. Though some limitations are unavoidable, metal welding is possible with the help of your household toolkit and a visit to the local hardware store.
How to Weld Metal Without a Welder
In the discussion below, you will learn about six different welding methods without a welder, their step-by-step guide, benefits, and limitations.
Soldering generally refers to the process of connecting circuit boards, a common practice in electronics, but it can be used to joint metals too. Soldering creates an electrical bond instead of a mechanical bond like welding does.
Soldering requires less heat and practice compared to welding. And This technique is so effective when it comes to joining thin metals such as cadmium, copper, gold, tin, brass and low alloy steel etc. but the biggest drawback is soldering is only suitable for smaller-scale projects, and it is not recommended to joint aluminum, stainless steel, and cast iron.
The Process of Soldering:
Step 1: Clean both the metal surface with a solder flux (ammonium chloride, resin acids, hydrochloric acids, etc.).
Step 2: Place the metal piece on top of another per your needs. Make sure both the pieces are firmly connected.
Step 3: Add a few drops of solder flux on top of the joint.
Step 4: Use the solder iron and filler material to carefully joint the gaps between the metal pieces.
Step 5: Rotate the metal structure and follow the same steps for the opposite side if possible.
2. Hardware Assembly
Hardware assembly refers to using various hardware or fasteners such as bolts, nuts, screws, etc., to assemble multiple metal parts. With proper tools and fasteners, this process comes in handy, from making a small metal box to heavy equipment and machines.
It is one of the most popular welding methods that ensure stability, strength, and endurance. Hardware assembly, also known as mechanical fastening, doesn’t require any heat, it isn’t too costly, and you can disassemble the metal parts later. The only drawback is that the connection may not be leak-proof.
The Process of Hardware Assembly:
Step 1: Drill a hole in both the metal objects maintaining an equal distance.
Step 2: Place a washer on both sides of each hole.
Step 3: Place the nuts and the bolts on each side and tighten the knot with a wrench.
3. Spot Welding
Spot welding is a resistance welding process where two or more metal sheets are welded together by applying pressure and heat from an electric current to the metal surface. As well, the pressure and current from alloy copper electrodes melt and fuse the metal parts together to form a powerful, waterproof, and durable bond.
Though the use of spot welding is immense in the automobile and electronics industries, it may be many household metals works as well. This method is well suited for low carbon steel such as stainless steel, titanium, nickel alloys, etc., but it is a bit difficult to weld aluminum and galvanized steel. Spot welding requires a lot of precision as once the metal pieces are welded together, there’s no going back.
The Process of Spot Welding:
Step 1: Line up the metal sheets precisely and align the structure with the copper electrodes.
Step 2: Bring the electrodes to the metal surface and put some pressure.
Step 3: At this point, allow the electrode to do its job by switching the current flow.
Step 4: The current will flow for a brief period. But keep the electrode in place for the material to cool down.
Step 5: When both the electrode and metal surface cool down, remove the electrode from the surface.
A rivet is like a metal pin that holds two metal pieces together, and it is more effective than typical mechanical fastening. Riveting may be a difficult task in big metal projects such as making boilers, bridges, etc., but it is fairly an easy job in small to medium projects with the help of proper tools. Non-ferrous materials such as aluminum, copper, stainless steel are ideal for riveting. The mechanical properties of the rivets must be the same as those of the metals being joined. Riveted joints suffer no thermal effects, form a powerful bond, and riveting is an easy method to learn. Although riveting may not be leak-proof, it doesn’t leave much room for modification.
The Process of Riveting:
Step 1: Firmly hold the metal objects together with heavy support on one side.
Step 2: Drill a hole in the structure.
Step 3: Insert a rivet in the hole on the opposite side of the heavy support.
Step 4: Use the riveter to straighten its head and cut off the tail.
Brazing is a combination of both solder and welding, and it is the most relevant and effective alternative to welding. Unlike welding, where two metal pieces are melted and joined together, brazing melts a filler material to create a metallurgical bond between the pieces. In this process, a high-intensity flame torch melts filler material such as silver, nickel, cobalt, copper, etc. that has a lower melting point than the adjoined metal, and together they create a joint when cooled down. This joint is very strong and can be a replacement for aluminum boat welding. But, the process is a bit tricky and expensive.
The Process of Brazing:
Step 1: Different base metals require different brazing materials. So first, the proper material has to be chosen.
Step 2: Use a brush to add a layer of flux on top of the base metals to absorb oxides formed during the process.
Step 3: Open about ¾ of the torch value or match the heat with the filler material’s melting point.
Step 4: Preheat the base metals.
Step 5: Apply heat from one direction and put the filler from the opposite side in the joint area.
As you have already guessed, normal glue is not going to do the job. Epoxy, silicon-based adhesives, and polyurethane, super glue is best suited for this method to work. These glues can joint-most metal like iron, stainless steel, brass, copper, etc., and they are not costly. But the biggest downside of this method is that the bond is not so strong or heat resistant.
The Process of Using Glue:
Step 1: Slightly roughen the metal surface with sandpaper and then clean it thoroughly.
Step 2: Apply the glue on the surface following the instructions on the packaging.
Step 3: Joint the metal pieces and put pressure until the glue dries.
The methods mentioned above are proven ways to weld metal without a welder. In general, conventional welding is undoubtedly the best option, and a professional welder is the best person to do the job. But sometimes expert help may not be necessary.
Apart from brazing, all the methods here are easy, and they do not require any prior expertise. The use of adhesive, soldering, riveting, and hardware assembly- these processes are not just easy; they also cost less. No matter which method of these six you follow, you will be able to successfully weld metal without a welder’s help.